A Poem For Brigid’s Day
My mother’s name is Brigid, though everyone knows her as Ida, named as almost every Irish person used to be, after a saint.
St Brigid, one of the patron saints of Ireland, whose feast day is today, the old Irish imbolc, the first day of spring.
Much to my own surprise I found a poem about Brigid rising a while ago.
I saved it for today.
It’s in the style of the old Irish poetry, the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe.
Queen of queens, they called her in the old books,
the Irish Mary. Never washed her hands
nor her head in sight of a man, the books said,
never looked into a man’s face. She was good
with the poor, multiplied food, gave ale to lepers.
Among birds, call her dove; among trees, a vine.
A sun among stars. Such was the sort of woman preferred
as the takeover was made: consecrated cask,
throne for His glory, intercessor. Brigid said
nothing to any of this, the reverence
or the upbraidings. Her realm is the lacuna, silence
her sceptre, her own way of life its own witness.
Out of desire, the lure of lust or the dust of great deeds,
she was distorted: to consort, mother-virgin,
to victim or whore. I am not as womanly a woman
as she. So I say: Let us see. Let us say how she is the one.
It is she who conceives and she who does bear. She who
knitted us in the womb and who will cradle our tomb
-fraying. Daily she offers her arms, clothes us
in compassion, smiles as we wriggle for baubles.
Yes, it is she who lifts you aloft
to whisper through your ears, to kiss
through your eyes, to touch her
cooling cheek to your cheek.
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